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Old 7th Apr 2005, 06:37   #1 (permalink)
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Wessex loggers grounded

CAA explains why firm's choppers remain grounded
07 April 2005

A Taranaki helicopter logging company has spent $7 million on 11 helicopters that it may not be able to use.

Civil Aviation Authority Director John Jones today briefed a parliamentary select committee on Heli-Logging Ltd's application for an exemption so it can use ex-military Westland Wessex helicopters from the United Kingdom in its Stratford based operation.

Mr Jones told the committee the model was not supported by the equivalent authority in the UK it withdrew certification in the 1990s after serious accidents which meant it did not qualify for normal New Zealand certification and an exemption would be required for the business to use it.

The CAA had concerns about using helicopters for a purpose they were not designed for.

"The military aircraft are designed for quite specific and different roles from civil and the design and maintenance of them is also different," Mr Jones told the committee.

"World-wide (there's) a very high accident rate for ex-military helicopters in civil operations and unfortunately in my view those accidents have resulted in a disproportionate number of fatalities."

In the United States in one 18 month period there were six logging accidents using ex-military helicopters half those accidents were fatal taking nine lives.

In the UK a civilian model of the Wessex was involved in 27 accidents between 1976 and 1993.

And in New Zealand in 2001 Motueka pilot Peter McColl, 39, was killed when the adapted 1964 Westland Wessex helicopter he was using to recover logs near Motueka crashed.

Metro Logging Ltd, the Christchurch-based firm which owned the helicopter, was charged with running the operation in breach of the Civil Aviation Act and was fined $6000 on guilty pleas to 12 charges.

Other ex-military aircraft had been involved in several fatal accidents in New Zealand.

Mr Jones said another concern was that flight trials Heli-Logging did on the aircraft showed a 90 per cent reduction in the life of some components. Parts that would normally last 4000 hours only worked properly for 400 when the aircraft was used to carry logs.

After the briefing Mr Jones said the case was "unusual".

"Not many people would try use a special experimental category aircraft on commercial operations. It's not allowed under our laws at the moment," he said.

Mr Jones said most logging operators bought a normal certificated aircraft and do logging "and that's perfectly okay."

However Heli-Logging Ltd Managing Director Mark Ford did not see any reason against using the helicopters for logging.

"It's a very successful aircraft."

He said dealing with the CAA was like fighting a brick wall and there was "most definitely" personal animosity against him.

Other operators had told him CAA staff has said there was no chance the helicopters would be approved.

"I feel gutted," he said.

Mr Ford asked the High Court in December for an injunction to force Mr Jones to make a decision about his application but it was dismissed.

If the CAA refuse an exemption Mr Ford has vowed to keep fighting.

"We'll get there. We wouldn't have started it if we weren't confident."

At the moment Mr Ford has eight of the 40-year-old Wessex aircraft that cannot be used for anything but passenger work. Three are yet to be delivered from the UK. They were previously used by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Mr Ford felt the process had taken far too long he first applied for the exemption in January 2003 but Mr Jones said considerable time and energy had gone into the case.

"We're doing everything we can. It takes a lot of time up to analyse this sort of stuff and we've got to be sure from a safety point of view that at the end of the day it's safe."
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Old 7th Apr 2005, 08:00   #2 (permalink)
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Can't help but feel that the NZ CAA has got it right!
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Old 7th Apr 2005, 10:39   #3 (permalink)
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Agree with shortshaft

It can't be that big of a surprise that they wouldn't be approved if he had talked to the CAA before buying the helicopters. It's not the best way to first buy helicopters, then seek approval. Doing it the other way around is obviously less risky. Seems to me that Mr Ford gambled on getting a couple of very cheap helicopters and lost. Maybe lacked a little bit on the research-side?
It's the same thing with the BO105 that are beeing sold by the german army, they can't get on the civil register, so it doesn't matter how cheap they are because without a registration they're suddenly very expensive. Knowing this keeps me from trying to get one.

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Old 7th Apr 2005, 11:30   #4 (permalink)
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Dont wanna sound harsh but might have somrthing to do with the ex Mil Scouts everybody rushed out and bought and crashed after the 5 Hr conversion
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Old 18th Apr 2005, 21:41   #5 (permalink)
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wessex grounding

Just read an article on Westland helicopters about the wessex.

Seems they were built for bristow in the 60's for use in the north sea and had a civvy licence.

How does that put things in perspective??

does the licence run out?
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Old 18th Apr 2005, 22:08   #6 (permalink)
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Bristow lost at least two - blade delamination ISTR.
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Old 22nd Apr 2005, 00:26   #7 (permalink)
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Ah, can we merge this with the other two threads on this subject, lots of repeating going on, and it is starting to get disjointed :-)

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Old 9th Jun 2017, 04:56   #8 (permalink)
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Court of Appeal allows fraud case against Civil Aviation Authority to go ahead

Grounded ex-military helicopters are the subject of a multi-million dollar claim against a government department accused of fraud.
Mark Wayne Ford of the now-liquidated Heli-Logging Ltd, said if his suit was successful he would be seeking $90 million compensation from the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.
He alleges the CAA wrongfully refused to give him the go ahead to use his helicopters for logging.
The amount sought would cover the loss of earnings, the cost of 10 helicopters and spare parts and legal bills, he said.
READ MORE: The choppers, the finance firms and the missing millions
In May the Court of Appeal released a decision which will allow the 12-year battle to be heard in court again after it was struck out in the High Court in 2015.
The CAA said it had received the decision and was considering its position but had no further comment.
Its decision reveals Ford alleges the director of the CAA acted fraudulently and in bad faith when deciding against granting exemptions for the use of former military aircraft, Wessex Mk2 helicopters, in its Taranaki heli-logging operations in 2005.
He claims the CAA led Heli-logging to believe the exemptions would be granted, but when he applied for them the CAA had changed its mind and refused to give him the exemptions.
He claims the CAA fraudulently withheld disclosure of a report prepared by experienced and respected helicopter pilot Bernie Lewis in 1999 that stated the choppers were well proven and had operated successfully around the world.
Further to that he alleges the CAA acted fraudulently and without honest belief when declining the exemptions on safety grounds because it was aware of Lewis' report saying they were safe.
In 2005 Lewis, on behalf of the CAA, wrote another report about the helicopters which said they were not safe.
Ford claims Lewis said the information in that report was based on when he last flew the helicopters around 40 years earlier, but Lewis had flown a Wessex in 1999 when he wrote the earlier report.
There is also dispute between the parties about handwritten changes made to the original copy of the letter
The CAA maintains Heli-Logging's claims are merely challenges to the director's opinion dressed up as allegations of fraud and have no credible basis.
It said each of the claims were statute barred and all material facts were either known by the company in 2005 or 2006, were reasonably discoverable, or did not support any allegation of fraudulent concealment.
In its May decision the Court of Appeal noted the case presented was now quite different than that heard by the High Court and reinstated the proceeding.
"We record that we have have not decided that there is merit in the claims as articulated in this court, which involve an allegation that the director acted in bad faith in reaching his 2005 decision.
"It is important to record that the director has not had an adequate opportunity to respond to an assertion which, if true, has serious implications for a senior public official."
It would be up to the high court to make the orders necessary to get the proceeding back on track, including orders requiring re-pleading of the claim and re-addressing the issue of costs in that court if costs were sought, the ruling said.
Ford said he hoped the trial, which he estimated could last three weeks, would be held in the next 12 to 18 months.

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Old 9th Jun 2017, 05:43   #9 (permalink)
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Mark, take care of your health....seriously.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 09:51   #10 (permalink)
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this will add fuel to the fire...

Civil Aviation Authority inspector not as qualified as claimed | Stuff.co.nz
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 12:33   #11 (permalink)
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I think Mark needs to spend less money on helicopters and invest in some shoe laces.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 14:37   #12 (permalink)
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Providing they were properly maintained and operated within the 13,600lb MAUM and the 3,200ft/lb Max Tq limit the Brit-Mil used, they should have been fine for logging work but what spares availability was like I don't know.

As the Uruguayans discovered, you need someone who knows the fuel computers well and the setup procedures for them intimately or you will end up with endless computer freezes (no manual throttle option).

However, getting advice from an imposter (the CAA advisor) who doesn't know one end of a Wessex from the other, probably didn't help much.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 16:08   #13 (permalink)
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Agree with you Crab ; we had an on-site R-R engine rep.at SAR Wing Finn. when I was MTP
there to teach the greasers ,and update the computers on the Wx.and S-K...and he also did the Vipers/Astzoos/Lycs on the other aircraft.
With the logging,there were ` rumours` that it was being done on one engine,which would lead to coupling g`box and s-e limits problems.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 16:13   #14 (permalink)
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That's possibly where the rumours of single engined Pumas came from.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 19:14   #15 (permalink)
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Crab, compliance with the gross weight and torque limits may not guarantee safety.

And why not?

It is probable that UK military qual procedures are very similar to US, and in the respect I shall address, that probably is true for the FAA vs CAA processes.

In that qualification process, a flight loads survey is done which, with the approval of the pertinent authority, represents the usage spectrum of the machine in service. The flight loads thus collected are matched against the ground test lab test loads and the component replacement times are established.

But the logging usage spectrum is far different than the military or civil usage spectrum, and so there are problems. There are also some subtle, some not so subtle differences in flying techniques. The so-called " Wenatchee Snatch " maneuver employed by some S-61's is not fiction, and was certainly never envisioned by the USN SH-3 nor the LAA or NY Airways 61 operators is one example. Some sites required logging S-64's to make every max weight approach at a steep/slow condition, ensuring very high N/rev vibration ( and no, not VRS ) and associated loads. They experienced some sheet metal fatigue problems never encountered by the Army. Just a couple of examples.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 19:19   #16 (permalink)
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Good point John, the fatigue spectrum and component life would have been predicated on specific flight profiles with only a certain percentage conducted at MAUM and at Vmax.

The aircraft had quite a hard life in NI but probably not as hard as constant logging ops would have been.

I don't remember seeing one for the Wessex but other aircraft had a Statement of Intended Operational Usage - or some similar title.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 19:22   #17 (permalink)
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As they found out with the BV234 on the North Sea. 1,000,000 hrs. experience with the Chinook but they hadn't flown at max cruise speed at nearly max weight for six or seven hours a day.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 30th Jun 2017 at 21:32.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 20:24   #18 (permalink)
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Sycamore, we had our own expert on the Wessex who sorted the computers out, one R Huddlestone - bless him, no need for RR interference on the Wessex at SAR Finningley.
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Old 30th Jun 2017, 21:23   #19 (permalink)
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I think General Aviation in New Zealand would be stunned at the lack of Civil Qualifications held by CAA staff, vast number have not actually worked in GA......anywhere
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Old 1st Jul 2017, 00:40   #20 (permalink)
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As they found out with the BV234 on the North Sea. 1,000,000 hrs. experience with the Chinook but they hadn't flown at max cruise speed at nearly max weight for six or seven hours a day.
Yes.....we know how arduous such a profile can be as compared to 8-12 hour days with all sorts of underslung loads and heavy internal loads with high rate of descents and max power takeoffs and max power landings with a greater frequency than offshore.

What you are trying say I think is the stresses and wear issues were different than experienced by the US Army during its operation of the aircraft.

You also omitted any mention of how the very exact same aircraft have been worked hard by Columbia Helicopters doing Helicopter Logging which is far harder on the aircraft than any other work it has done.

I am sure Columbia had a very different experience than did British Operators of the Chinook.

We know the RAF certainly found some difficulty due to a go it alone attitude until some corporate knowledge was accrued.

The Helicopter-Loggers that used Bell UH-1's for Logging learned some very costly lessons about design weaknesses in those aircraft over the years....as Logging was not what the old Huey was really destined to do all day long at the weights the Loggers carried on a regular basis.

The Wessex will be the same....just as its cousin the S-58T was when it was put into Civilian Long Line Service. The Wessex did not last long in Civilian service either....and after some fatal crashes in Nigeria....Bristow retired them.
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